Students dedicate time to Pride practice, performance


The band forms “SDSU” as part of the pre-game show, Hobo Day 1964.

The Pride of the Dakotas is made up of 200 members who commit their time to practice and performance each week and choose to play in the band simply because they love music. 

“Students put in a lot of time and are very dedicated. Most of the people in the band are not music majors and just do it because they love it,” said Kevin Kessler, director of athletic bands. “I respect them for that and for their enthusiasm.”

The Pride meets on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of each week to practice new music and steps for upcoming performances. 

Pride members are each given a packet of charts in which the football field has been placed onto a grid. Each student is assigned a number and a letter indicating his or her number on the field, which direction to move and the form. Early in the week, The Pride learns to get from one position to the next, one picture at a time. As the week goes on, members start rehearsing in bigger segments.

“The bulk of our rehearsal during the week is visual,” Kessler said. 

The song choice each week is a collaborative process between Kessler, Percussion Director Aaron Ragsdale and Concert Band Director Jacob Wallace. 

“We decide on ideas we think would be entertaining and that the audience would enjoy. We’re about entertainment and energizing the audience,” Kessler said. “[We think] what’s our best bet to reach the audience… We try to entertain as wide a base of people as we possibly can. ”

Sarah Muirhead, a senior biology, pre-veterinary major and mellophones section leader, has been a member of The Pride for four years. She said her first performance ever with the band was her favorite.

“My very first performance wasn’t my best, but it was my favorite. I didn’t have marching band in high school, so it was really fun to perform in a stadium full of people,” Muirhead said.

This year, The Pride started performing in the student walk before each game. About two hours before each home game, the band lines up with the Hobo Day Committee, Bum Mobile and students and marches in front of the group, leading them to the tailgating area. 

“That was interesting because I’ve never been in the tailgating area before since I’m in band,” Muirhead said. 

Caleb Finck, a fifth-year senior agricultural leadership student and sousaphone player, was a member of The Pride his freshman and sophomore year but, because of scheduling problems, couldn’t participate his junior and senior year. He decided to join again this year.

“I missed it a lot and it’s a ton of fun. I would’ve done it every year if I could have,” Finck said.

His sister is also a member of The Pride and his parents were both members. He hopes he will  have the chance to play with his parents on Hobo Day when the Alumni Band will march in the parade and perform in the tailgate area prior to the pre-game show at the football game. 

Finck’s favorite memories with the band include visiting different high schools and showing high school students what it is like to be in a collegiate level band. 

“High school students don’t think their music careers can last past their high school years and it’s important for The Pride to show them that you don’t have to be a music major to continue your music career in college,” Finck said. “We’re all there because we love doing it. The Pride is a big sound and we like to have fun.”

While Finck is busy as the Students’ Association president, a member of Delta Chi and the SDSU Concert Choir, is temporarily chairing the Brookings bicycle advisory committee and working for State Tech, he appreciates the relaxing feeling The Pride brings.

“I’m super busy, but when I’m at Pride, that’s all there is. It’s time to relax,” Finck said. “Because you’re a musician and you love what you do. If we can play for people and make everything else disappear for ten minutes, that makes every hour of practice worth it.”